Watchdog begins to investigate the number of customers “unbanked” by the big banks
The UK’s financial watchdog is set to find out how many customers have been ‘unbanked’ by the UK’s biggest banks as part of an investigation into account closures and free speech .
The decision by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) follows the scandal sparked by politician Nigel Farage after he revealed that Coutts had decided to close his bank account.
This led to the government passing new rules to crack down on unexplained bank closures and resulted in the resignation of bosses at Coutts and its owner, NatWest Group.
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City Comment: Kingsley Napley law firm turns off lights on Fridays. Will he hang on?
First, “Dress Up Friday” was replaced by suits and oxfords with wink chinos and loafers at the start of the weekend.
Now, post-pandemic, are we in the era of “Black Friday” where entire swaths of city offices will simply go dark?
The city’s well-known law firm Kingsley Napley, which occupies six floors in its Bonhill Street office, decided to turn off light switches in much of its space on Friday.
According to the Legal Cheek website, the business will simply close two and a half floors on the fifth working day of the week. The policy will result in annual savings of around £100,000 in energy, cleaning and maintenance costs, as well as ticking an ESG carbon footprint box.
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Bellway shares slide as builder reveals blow to UK housing downturn
Bellway today became the latest major builder to show how much the UK housing slowdown and loss of buying aid is hurting, revealing a drop in booking levels and warning that legal completions are expected to decrease “significantly” this year.
The FTSE 250 company, one of Britain’s biggest homebuilders, said weekly booking rates fell 28.4% in the year to July 31.
It added that the value of its futures order book stood at £1.2 billion “but still significant” at the end of the year, up from £2.1 billion 12 months earlier.
Like its rivals, it has seen soaring mortgage rates put pressure on potential buyers already struggling with the cost of living crisis. In addition, the end of the purchase assistance program has also hit the industry.
Shares slid 16p, or 0.72%, to 2,200p.
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European stocks rally, Hill & Smith up 10% in FTSE 250
More worrying statistics out of China failed to keep traders on the sidelines today as heavyweights BP and Barclays pushed the FTSE 100 index higher.
London’s bigger than expected rebound of 0.9% or 64.77 points to 7592.19 came despite China slipping into deflation as consumer and factory prices fell simultaneously in July to the first time since 2020.
A day earlier, the country’s statistics office had revealed double-digit percentage declines in both exports and imports. Steve Clayton, head of equity funds at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “This signals a significant slowdown in the Chinese economy, which is beset by high debt levels.”
Despite the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy, Europe has focused elsewhere after Italy watered down its one-off tax plans for banks. Italy’s FTSE MIB index jumped 1.8% to make up for yesterday’s losses, while benchmarks in Frankfurt and Paris rose more than 1%.
In London, shares of Barclays rebounded 2.9 pence to 149.9 pence and Anglo American fell 36 pence to 2192.5 pence after the mining sector was hit by China-induced weakness yesterday.
BP also rose 10.5p to 490.5p and Shell a more modest 26p to 2398p after supply-side concerns kept the price of Brent Crude above $86 a barrel.
Elsewhere in the FTSE 100, favorable earnings reaction from operator Holiday Inn IHG unfolded in a second session with a further gain of 3% or 174p to 5964p.
They were trailed by Coca-Cola bottling company HBC, which rose 52p to 2,312p on improved revenue forecasts and a beating on half-year profits.
Shares of specialist insurer Hiscox found the situation more difficult, even though profits of $264.8m (£207.6m) were ten times higher after the previous year’s claims spike .
The Bermuda-based company said it saw growth in every business unit, but with excess earnings still below City’s estimates, shares fell 6% or 71p to 1,042p.
The UK-focused FTSE 250 index rose 0.7% or 142.04 points to 18,983.58, with road safety barrier specialist Hill & Smith up 10% or 160p to 1730p after having raised the 2023 guidance alongside a 20% rise in operating profit to a half-year record of £62.5m.
Colefax expects trading conditions to get tougher
Results from Colefax, an AIM-listed fabric and home decor company, showed how weakness in the housing market could impact other sectors.
Chief executive David Green warned: “The group’s performance is lagging activity in the high-end housing market and we expect trading conditions to become progressively more difficult as the sharp rises interest rates are starting to have an impact in the US and UK.” If moves are delayed, it could slow down decorating decisions.
Sales for the year to April improved 3% to £104.8million, but pre-tax profits fell 21% to £8.5million due to a higher contribution weak from the decoration division and compared to an exceptional performance during the pandemic.
22% of UK employees say they experience discrimination in the workplace – survey
More than a fifth of UK employees said they had experienced discrimination in the workplace because of their identity, but the figure was lower than in the US and other European countries, according to a new study.
People of black and Asian origins, as well as those belonging to the LGBT+ community, were more likely to have experienced such problems, according to the survey.
Some 4,973 people from the US, UK, France, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands were surveyed online in May and June this year by data and research firm Savanta market.
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TP ICAP downsizes its brokers in an effort to free up cash
City broker TP ICAP revealed today that it has cut nearly 180 jobs as it seeks to free up cash to pay off debt.
The Bishopsgate-based firm said it had cut its brokerage workforce by 7% as part of cost management measures and “a greater focus on contribution”.
CEO Nicolas Breteau said he “will continue to assess opportunities to free up cash to further invest in the business.” [and] pay off more debt.
First half revenue increased 4.8% to £1.1 billion. Pre-tax profits rose 26.4% to £91m.
Take a look at key market data as miners led the rise in the FTSE 100 this morning.
FTSE 100 up as miners recover, Flutter shares down 5%
London stocks are leading, with the FTSE 100 index up 0.6% or 46.54 points at 7,573.96 and the FTSE 250 index up 0.7% or 138.32 points at 18 979.86.
Blue-chip risers included Coca-Cola bottling firm HBC, which is up 3% or 58p to 2,318p after its half-year results. Gaming group Flutter Entertainment moved in the opposite direction despite returning to profit, dropping 5% or 725p to 14,180p.
Other big moves came from the mining sector as Glencore reversed yesterday’s decline adding 9.75p to 454.35p and Anglo American rose 39.5p to 2196p.
Interdealer broker TP ICAP tops the FTSE 250, jumping 14% or 21.5p to 176p after half-year results.
Hiscox profits explode with claims as modeled
Profits soared at Lloyd’s of London insurer Hiscox as its claims-related losses entered its models.
First-half profit was $264.8 million, more than ten times the amount a year earlier when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to an increase in claims. He said his estimate of the net loss from the war remained unchanged.
“Significant and attritional losses across the group are in line with our expectations,” Hiscox said.
“Our business has delivered revenue and earnings growth in every business unit as our proactive and disciplined underwriting and favorable market conditions combine,” CEO Aki Hussain said. “Our portfolio of companies, our people and innovation to meet the changing needs of our customers positions us well to continue to deliver high-quality growth and earnings.
Hussain added that the company had made “disciplined” decisions to turn down growth opportunities, including exiting some UK opportunities “outside our risk appetite”, in order to maintain the “quality” of its earnings. the company.
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